Conservation at Ladder — Ted Turner Reserves
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Conservation and Wildlife

Exceptionally diverse biologically, Ladder has been a focal point for several species restoration programs in partnership with the Turner Endangered Species Fund, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. Some of these species include the Mexican wolf, Chiricahua leopard frog, and Bolson tortoise.


A native of southwestern North America and Mexico, the Mexican wolf was extirpated in the wild by illegal poisoning and shooting.  Restoration in the wild began with releases of captive raised animals in 1998.  The Turner Endangered Species Fund partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to assist in recovering the Mexican wolf by constructing the Ladder Wolf Management Facility in 1997. The organizations’ recovery efforts include breeding wolves in captivity at the facility, providing transitional pen space for wolves transitioning between captive and wild populations, offering acclimation or pre-release conditioning, and providing wolves for release back to the wild.  The Ladder wolf facility is the only private captive breeding and pre-release facility for Mexican wolves in the world, and one of only two in existence in the southwest.  Since operations began, over 150 wolves have been housed at the facility, dozens of pups have been born, and dozens of “Ladder wolves” have been released to the wild.


Ladder and Turner Endangered Species Fund are currently working to establish viable, free-ranging Bolson tortoise populations in the northern Chihuahuan Desert. To prevent the extinction of the Bolson tortoise, Ladder staff are captively breeding individuals to increase the tortoise population and protecting juveniles in a robust head-start program until they reach predator-resistant size. When the Bolson tortoises reach sufficient size, they will be released onto the property and other protected conservation sites to form the foundation for wild populations. 


Listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2002, the Chiricahua leopard frog has suffered significant population declines due to factors including disease, invasive species, habitat degradation and drought. The Turner Endangered Species Fund and our conservation partners are using the Ladder to conserve and expand wild populations, maintain a captive breeding and refugia program, and conduct research to advance conservation of the species.  The Ladder is the focal point for range-wide recovery of the Chiricahua leopard frog. 


Las Animas Creek on the Ladder and adjacent Gila National Forest is the southernmost known historical locale of Rio Grande cutthroat trout.  Unfortunately, other, non-native trout were stocked in the stream in the past and the native cutthroat trout were extirpated.  Ladder has worked with the U.S. Forest Service and New Mexico Game and Fish to restore the imperiled native community of Rio Grande cutthroat trout, Rio Grande sucker, and Rio Grande chub in Las Animas Creek, and conserve the sucker and chub in other watersheds on the Ladder.  

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